Airline Industry and Climate Change

By Thursday, October 20, 2016 0 No tags Permalink 0

George Monbiot is a British journalist who writes a column for the Guardian newspaper. His specialty is the impact of technology on climate change. He often writes about the airline industry, and the controversy of expanding London’s Heathrow Airport.

In a recent article, he concludes that the British “Prime Minister cannot uphold the Paris agreement on climate change, that comes into force next month, and permit the runway to be built.” This is his argument.

“While most sectors can replace fossil fuels with other sources, this is not the case for aviation. The airline companies seek to divert us with a series of mumbo-jumbo jets: mythical technologies never destined for life beyond the press release. Solar passenger planes, blended wing bodies, hydrogen jets, algal oils, other biofuels: all are either technically impossible, commercially infeasible, worse than fossil fuels or capable of making scarcely a dent in emissions.

“Aviation means kerosene. Using kerosene to hoist human bodies into the air means massive impacts. Improvements in the fuel economy of aircraft have declined to 1% a year or less; greatly outstripped by the growth in aviation. So other means must be found of trying to make it fit.”

Monbiot goes on to argue that, if the airline industry is allowed to continue to operate without change, other industries would have to cut its emissions by 85% to meet the British commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that is fundamentally unfair. Finally, he makes this point.

Three quarters of international passengers at the UK’s biggest airports travel for leisure, and they are disproportionately rich: at Heathrow their mean income is £57,000. Just 15% of people in this country take 70% of flights. So everyone must pay for the holidays enjoyed by the better off.”

You can find the full article and other Monbiot pieces at this address.

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